Mythbusters in HR: how not to fire a “star”. Part 1

The HR manager is a key link in the work organization system. It is foolish to underestimate the importance of HR, because business owners and department managers listen to the opinion of the “HR specialist” before making a final decision about hiring an employee or firing him.

But do not forget – HR managers are not robots, devoid of emotions and, therefore, any action will bear the imprint of a personal relationship with this or that person. This is a serious threat to business. If you make the wrong management decision, you can easily lose an employee who could bring significant benefits to the company.

The analysis of the most common misconceptions of HR specialists will help to reduce the risks.


Domestic research and foreign surveys clearly demonstrate that 70-80% of HR managers are afraid of “toxic” employees. They try not to hire such specialists, but if an employee manages to get on board a corporate ship, they are fired first.

HR category of “toxic” employees includes personnel who: do not believe in the success of projects; prevent colleagues from achieving results; avoid risk; avoid responsibility; pessimistically perceive a number of ideas; react too emotionally.

Any sane head is unlikely to want to hire an employee with such a dubious portrait. But, in the reasoning of HR managers, there is one key flaw: all of the above characteristics are not objective, they only express the personal attitude of one person to another. Even the opinion of a group of people does not always reflect the real situation: what if several employees try to “waste” a more successful colleague, and HR, for subjective reasons, went along with them?

To minimize the impact of the “human factor” while making important decisions, the study of reports and statistics of personnel action monitoring systems will help.

First of all, you need to break down the “signs of toxicity”, which are allocated by HR managers, into several groups.

Segment one – factors associated with excessive emotionality. They are usually expressed in incorrect communication with colleagues and partners. To find out exactly whether an employee regularly crosses the line, is outraged at the drop of a hat, and is also inclined to be rude, it is enough to analyze his correspondence in mail, messengers and check phone conversations. You can’t hide pig in a poke: if an employee is prone to outbursts of emotions, confirmation will be found very quickly. But, if there is no evidence of “toxicity” – it is worth taking a closer look at colleagues who are pumping up the atmosphere. There’s a chance they’re just getting rid of a competitor.

The second segment is pessimism, attempts to avoid risk and avoid responsibility. There are some employees who are very fond of scolding the company, and all innovations are perceived extremely negatively. Keeping such characters is stupid and counterproductive. On the other hand, sound criticism and the search for vulnerabilities in the plans help to avoid mistakes and provide for all possible scenarios. Such an employee is extremely valuable, because his analytical approach will help to avoid possible miscalculations and, accordingly, save time and money.
Most often, incompetent heads and colleagues who blindly believe in one way to solve problems, or who do not want to admit their mistakes, try to get rid of “critics”.

To distinguish a “positive” critic from a “destructive” one, a comparative analysis of staff work patterns will help. The KPI critic with a plus sign will be higher than that of his colleagues, because he can think several steps ahead. The time spent on non-working needs is lower than the average for the department, and the speed of task implementation is higher. Such an employee is inclined to make decisions quickly and is ready to take responsibility for them. However, if the algorithms for performing actions are imposed by less competent staff or a line head, the “positive critic” will definitely note the flawed plan in writing and refuse to be responsible for the consequences of ill-considered decisions.

The “negative” critic is always in the laggards, because the level of self-motivation of the “pessimist” is low.

If you look closely at the communications of such an employee, it turns out that in most cases they do not openly express their positions, agreeing with their heads in everything. At the same time, they are happy to discuss plans behind the back of colleagues and the head.

It is difficult to imagine a human resources management system without a human resources manager. Competent HR is not only a “nanny” for employees, but also a loyal assistant to the head. The fate of personnel, line heads and even entire departments often depends on his words and advice.

But what if the HR manager is wrong? What if HR went to the “dark side of the force” and turned into a gray cardinal: he began to lobby for the interests of some employees and “betray” others in favor of his personal desires?

In the last article, we told which categories of employees HR managers want to get rid of and how to check the objectivity of such decisions. This material will complete the topic.

Liars and gossips

Liars and gossips are the quintessence of harm to the company. Firstly, distorting the facts and trying to avoid responsibility causes a significant blow to the efficiency of the business. And, secondly, the spread of false information destroys the normal working atmosphere in the team.

But, before you cut all the staff that fell into this category at one fell swoop, it is necessary to make sure that the unflattering characteristics are true.

The easiest way is to analyze employee communications. Distortion of information and distortion of facts is very easy to find by studying the correspondence of the staff.

Monitoring communication in popular messengers, such as Skype, will help to detect gossips. Usually, it is difficult for them to keep the “latest news” in themselves for a long time and they need to “share the secret” with the widest possible audience as soon as possible.

If the accusations are confirmed and the liar-gossip is found, it is worth going further and studying the circle of his contacts in the company. People who are prone to this behavior prefer to gather in small flocks, and the most effective solution for the head is to say goodbye to the entire group as a whole.

Bored loafers

Perhaps this is the simplest and, at the same time, the most complex group.

It is extremely easy to detect loafers. It is enough to monitor the activity of the staff and analyze how much of the time is spent on fulfilling work needs, and how much is spent on counterproductive activity.

But, if the company has not yet implemented a personnel control system and does not analyze the time management of employees, you should be ready for the fact that it is the accusations of laziness and inefficiency that will become an occasion that will help get rid of the unwanted.

Most often, such incidents occur during the “war for the chair”, of which HR also becomes a part due to a misunderstanding or as a result of collusion. There are two most common patterns of action.
The first is that an employee with higher motivation, professional knowledge and leadership qualities appears in the department. Naturally, sooner or later, he will become a threat to his immediate head. To keep a warm chair, it is important for the head of the department to sabotage the work of a subordinate: to make him guilty of all failures and miscalculations. Such plan is very vulnerable because the truth can come out. The support of the HR manager will strengthen the position: in addition to the reports of the conspiratorial manager, the HR’s characteristics appear in the case. As a result, a TOP manager or business owner will receive a low assessment of the professional skills and personal qualities of the employee who is trying to survive. And this is at least two negative reviews against the words of one employee. The situation is likely to end with the dismissal of a promising specialist.

The second scheme is an attempt by the team to get rid of the head. This usually happens when a new head comes to a small firm or a close-knit department. The reorganization of work and the desire to improve efficiency destroy the cozy world of lazy people, and they unite in the face of a common enemy. In such situation, the owner or TOP will rather believe the friendly voice of the team that he has known for a long time, than a new person, a stranger to the company. The result is sad: the head of the department will be dismissed, and the team will continue to live the same life, not overshadowed by excessive work.

HR management is a delicate matter, and any wrong decision leads to serious losses. Attempts to optimize the structure of departments based on a personal attitude, without a solid background of analytical data, are in themselves a risky situation.

To protect the business and reduce the chance of negative consequences arising from reckless actions, it is necessary to build relationships with the collective on the basis of analytics, statistics and objective information. Various systems for monitoring staff activity help to collect such data.

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